A Little More Conversation, A Lot Less Action

by Eliza






“I’m fine Vincent.  I just need some air.”


“Are you leaving?”


“I need a little space.  All the dancing….  I’m tired.”


“I’m coming with you.”


“No.  Don’t abandon your friends.  The helpers want to see you.  I’m fine.  Really.  I’ll just– ”


“I’m coming with you.”


“But – ”


“These stairs can be treacherous.  Here, take my hand.”




“Let’s go to my chamber.”


“How about the mirror pool?  It’s been a long time since we’ve been there.”


“You can’t walk that far in those shoes.”


“Hey, these are Manolo Blahniks.  You wouldn’t believe what I can do in these shoes.  I’ve walked…  What?  Oh for Pete’s sake Vincent, you don’t have to carry me!”


“Hush.  You said you were tired.”


“I didn’t mean that kind of tired.”




“Are you cold?  Do you want my cloak?”


“No thanks.”


“You have goosebumps on your arms.”


“That’s excitement.  I always feel touched by magic in this place.”


“I feel that too.”


“It never ceases to amaze me that every time we come here, we are always the only ones here.  How can that be?  Why doesn’t Father have a reading nook on that ledge?  And there’s a spot where Mary could put her small rocker.”


“We take for granted the beauty in our world, as many do in yours.”


“If I lived down here, I’d put a couple of big comfy cushions in that corner over there.  And beside them I’d set your engraved wooden box – you know, the large one Cullen carved for you – and I’d have my favorite books in there, and my journal, and my best pens for writing.  And maybe the patchwork quilt my mother sewed, for cooler evenings.”


“That sounds lovely.”


“It does, doesn’t it?  Another dream for my collection.”




“Hmm?  Oh, I didn’t mean that to sound so….  Don’t worry, Vincent, I’m fine.”





“Shall we see what’s in the mirror pool tonight?”


“All right.  But I have to warn you: astronomy was not my strongest subject.”


“And what was?”


“Aside from law?  Probably psychology.”


“That’s what makes you such a good lawyer.  You understand people’s minds, their intentions and motives.”


“I try, anyway.  I still can’t understand the decisions they make sometimes.  When the heart gets mixed up with the mind.  Or the mind with the heart.”


“They often work at cross purposes.  And therein lies the source of conflict.”


“Hmm.  So what are we seeing here tonight?”


“Let’s see.  There are no planets right now, just stars.  There’s Andromeda, there, and Perseus above her.  And there, Pisces the Fish and Aries the Ram.  How were you at Greek Mythology?”


“Fair I suppose.  Andromeda was a princess, wasn’t she?  I remember a picture in my art history text, of her chained naked to a rock beside a stormy sea.”


“She was a very beautiful princess.  Her father had sacrificed her to the sea monster Cetus, but Perseus came along and saw her great beauty.  He slew the monster and saved her from death.”


“Someone once said ‘Beauty in distress is the most affecting.’”


“Ah, Edmund Burke.  But I suspect Perseus was captivated by more than just her beauty.  You know, the name Andromeda means she who has bravery in her mind.  She was beautiful inside and out.  That’s very rare.”


“And when you find it, you shouldn’t let it go.  He didn’t let her go, did he?” 


“No.  He claimed her in marriage, although she had been promised to another.  Catherine?”




“Why did you leave so suddenly?  You seemed to be enjoying yourself.”           


“I was.”


“Every male helper in the Great Hall asked you to dance.”


“Even William set down his tray of cream puffs to give me a whirl!  Did you see that?”


“I saw it.  And did Pascal finally stop apologizing?”


“Only when an urgent message called him away.  Who’d have thought that someone so tuned in to the rhythms of the pipes could have two left feet on the dance floor?  I lost track of how many times he tread on my toes.”




“Five?  Really?  You should have rescued me, Vincent.”


“You were the belle of the ball.  I couldn’t just whisk you away.”


“No, of course not.  You were too busy with your magic show.”


“Magic show?”


“Every time I managed to get within ten feet of you, you vanished.  The best trick I’ve ever seen.”






“You are…so beautiful tonight….”


“You are beautiful too.  Look at our reflection.  Look!  There’s barely a ripple in the pool.  We’re perfect.”


“You are the perfect one.”


No, you are too.  See?  When I stand against you…here…and when I put your arm around me…here….  No, not like that, a bit higher up, tighter…there.  And when I lean back like this….”




“No, look, doesn’t that look perfect?  Kristopher thought so.  Hey!  Don’t go.  I’m sorry.  Okay, you stay…over there…and I’ll stay here.” 




“You were dancing with Peter’s nephew.”


“You mean Dean?  He seems to be following in his uncle’s footsteps in more ways than one.  A physician, and now also a helper.  That must comfort Father to have another doctor he can turn to.”


“It does, greatly.  Peter is also very proud of him.  Did you…like him?”


“Well, yes.  He was very charming and attentive.  Kind of reminds me of a young Gregory Peck.  I’ll bet he’s got an excellent bedside manner.”


“You left after you danced with him.  Before the music even ended.”


“Can I tell you something?  I would have loved to dance with you.”




“You never asked me to dance.  I danced with everybody else, hoping you would ask me.  And every time I managed to catch your eye, you looked away.  Why?


“I didn’t want it to be about me.”


“But this is about you.  I want you.  To hold me, claim me in front of everybody.  Who cares what they think.”


“I had no right to take you away from those men.  And I saw….”


“What?  You saw…what?”


“I saw how Dean was looking at you.”


“Boy, you sure saw a lot for someone who was never around.”


“He was whispering in your ear….”


“He asked me if we were together.”


“What did you tell him?”


“I said that we were, but then he asked why you were chatting with his uncle, while he was on the dance floor with me.  I didn’t have the faintest clue how to answer that, so I left.”


“Catherine, it would have been wrong to stop you from getting to know someone who could be…might be…important in your life.”


“Important in my life?”


“Yes.  I can’t…rob you…of any opportunity.”


“You can’t rob me….  But you are robbing me of the very thing I desire most!”


“Catherine, what you want…it’s just not possible.”


“Vincent, I’m ‘brave in my mind’.  Are you?”


“What are you doing?”


“Taking off my shoes…and going…home.”






“Vincent, I can’t do this anymore tonight.”


“Can you dance one more dance?”


“With who?”




“Oh.  Listen.  I’m almost at my building, why don’t I just add your name to my card next Winterfest.”


“Please Catherine.  I need to…right a wrong.”


“Don’t say that.  You haven’t wronged me.  I just….  I guess I want too much.  Let me go, Vincent.  We can talk again in a few days.”






“No, I can’t let you go.  I want our dance.  I want it tonight.”


“But I….  Why are you looking at me like that?  All right.  We can make our own music, and dance right here. 


Hey!  What are you – ?  Don’t tell me you’re going to carry me back to the Great Hall!”




“Could you just –?  I dropped my shoe, over there.  Thanks.”




“Excuse me, may I cut in?”




Vincent.  Hello Dean.  Are you enjoying Winterfest?”


“Yes, very much, thank you.  And…good to see you again, Vincent.  You brought Catherine back.  I was just wondering if I could reserve the next dance.”


“I beg your pardon, but she is mine the rest of the night.”




“Sorry Dean.  It looks like I’m taken.”




“Take off your shoes.”


“What?  Oh.  Um…your pocket?”


“Here, dance on my feet…like this.”


“I’m too heavy.”


“You’re as light as one of William’s cream puffs.  Put your arms around my neck.  We’ll dance the last dance like this.”


“Vincent?  Thank you for everything.  I will remember this night, cherish this night…always.”


“So will I, Catherine.”


“By the way….”




“Father is staring at us.  A lot of people are staring at us, actually.”


“Never mind Father.  The stress is good for him.”


“Yeah right.  He couldn’t look more alarmed if Paracelsus tapped him on the shoulder and asked him to dance….  Oh, this is hilarious.




“He’s looking at us as if he thought you were going to k—”